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Betsy DeVos: “School Choice Programs Lead to More Integrated Schools”

February 6, 2017

In response to Senator Patty Murray’s question 115 (among 139 written questions asked by Murray of DeVos following DeVos’ January 17, 2017, Senate HELP Committee hearing), DeVos states that school choice programs increase integration:


If a school choice plan was presented to the Department for funding, but there was compelling evidence to indicate this plan would increase segregation by race and/or by socioeconomic status, would the Department approve it? How can you justify this decision?


I do not support programs that lead to increased segregation. Empirical evidence finds school choice programs lead to more integrated schools than their public school counterparts.

DeVos names no specific study, and she offers no caution.

She writes definitively that School Choice Leads to More Integrated Schools.

But there are studies that refute her “more integrated” claim.

Here are a few, in brief:

Brookings analyzed nine years of federal data and found no overall relationship between charter school choice and racial segregation. However, the researcher suggested that the design of particular school choice programs vary and therefore could influence school segregation for better or worse.

The National Center for Educational Policy (NEPC) echoes the Brookings observation that school segregation can be shaped– sometimes by school policies and practices:

Even without school choice, America’s schools would be shockingly segregated, in large part because of housing policies and school district boundaries. School choice policies that do not have sufficient protections against unconstrained, segregative choices do exacerbate the problem. In an eight-state study, Zimmer et. al. found that Black students tended to self-segregate. Garcia found a similar tendency to self-segregate by White, Black and Native American students. Income distribution also plays a role, as residential patterns in communities, districts, towns, and suburbs result in enclaves separated by race and by wealth. Proximity and convenience, formal and informal social mechanisms, and the scarcity of realistic and convenient alternatives also have an effect. Moreover, while many choice schools are scrupulously fair about their processes, not all behave in this fashion. Welner describes a dozen approaches that charter schools, for instance, sometimes use in order to shape their student enrollment. These practices may take place pre-enrollment, during enrollment or—in the case of push-out policies—after enrollment. The result of these forces is highly segregated schools, no matter the predominant racial or ethnic group.

NEPC also observes that school-level segregation (both socioeconomic and racial) can be masked by pooling data across schools, thereby showing no relationship between charter school enrollment and segregation.

A CALDER study of Durham, North Carolina, schools found class segregation related to school choice (in this case, the ability to choose from among traditional, neighborhood public schools, magnet schools, charter schools or year-round schools) to be more pronounced than racial segregation. Furthermore, both individual preference as well as policy decisions influence the shaping of a student body.

Of course, these studies do not address the impact of vouchers upon school segregation, and DeVos favors publicly-financed school vouchers for private school attendance. However, given that a publicly-funded school voucher is unlikely to pay for a high-end private school, and given that those of more means would be more able to personally supplement the voucher with their own money, one could see how school vouchers could exacerbate segregation, both by socioeconomic status and, as a byproduct, by race.

But DeVos is “empirically” sure of herself.

Still, she did try to offer the right answer in her first sentence:

I do not support programs that lead to increased segregation.

Public schools in DeVos’ own hometown of Holland, Michigan, are experiencing “white flight” as a result of “Michigan’s generous school choice policies.”

DeVos supports school choice in Michigan, and she has ignored the public schools suffering from it in Holland, which had its own DeVos protest.

Still, DeVos did try to answer Murray’s question correctly, at least in the first sentence.

I wonder if DeVos has ever spent a day visiting Holland Public Schools.

Probably not, America. Probably not.

In closing, I offer Murray’s final question to DeVos (number 139 out of 139):

Do you believe that it is likely that your extended family will continue their long-standing pattern of giving to candidates, PACs, parties and other 527 organizations at the state and federal level if you are confirmed?

DeVos’ answer to this is simple and direct:


Full Senate vote on DeVos is set for noon (EST) on Tuesday, February 07, 2017.

betsy-devos-10  Betsy DeVos


Released July 2016– Book Three:

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of both A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

  1. LA Educator permalink

    My letter to our Louisiana Senators:
    Dear Senator:
    If you vote today to endorse Betsy DeVos, a woman who is purported to be the most unqualified candidate ever to be vetted for ANY cabinet position, and a woman who has inspired a record-breaking volume of opposition calls to the Senate, then it will be patently obvious that you do not care about the best interests of your constituents. If you do so, I will make it my personal mission to remind my colleagues in education EVERY DAY that you are responsible for this disastrous appointment. Ms. DeVos is most unsuitable for this position on so many levels: she is a billionnaire with multiple financial conflicts of interest; neither she nor her husband nor her children have ever made a student loan or attended a public school; she is hostile to public education due to her rabid pro-profit stance on education. In addition, she is not very intelligent. She publishes tweets with misspelled words, incorrect usage, and no subject/verb agreement. What a disgrace! I find it ironic that the only two Republicans in the Senate who are brave enough to defy Trump on this appointment are women! You should all be ashamed for being so cowardly!

    For God’s sake, BE A MAN & VOTE FOR WHAT YOU KNOW IS RIGHT! VOTE NO ON BETSY DEVOS! If you do not, I believe you will come to deeply regret allying yourself with Trump. His popularity is sliding, steadily in a downward direction.

    Peggy Schwarz

  2. The new world of Trump “reality” — if you say it, it is true…simply because no one to whom you are offering your alternative facts has the intestinal fortitude to refute your lies.

  3. Therlo permalink

    The only thing that would make the likes of DeVos happier is if all children of color received no education at all, and that all the whites were educated at christian schools. Period. That is what they want. That is likely what the republicans want. What the democrats have in common with the republicans is that they want their hedge fund and wealthy friends to profit from the deep well of education taxpayer dollars. The poor are screwed. The wealthy will benefit from our current federal government; the rest of us, not so much.

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